Probing the Potential of Non-Verbal Group Communication

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Association for Computing Machinery
Designing for non-verbal communication using e.g. gestures and other bodily expressions is difficult. Hardware and software need to be co-designed and harmonize in order to not throw users out of their embodied experience. We aim to design for kinaesthetic expressions of emotion in communication between friends - in this case, colleagues at work. A probe was built using sensor node technology designed to let users express themselves and their emotional state to a public and shared display where the expressions together formed a collective art piece expressing the individuals but also the group as a whole. Two groups of colleagues used the probe during two weeks. It came to serve as a channel in which some conflicts and expressions of social relations were acted out which were not openly discussed in the office. It exposed different roles and balances in relationships in the group. Finally, the probe taught us the importance of balancing the design for joint group expression and individual, personal expressions. The study also allowed the participants to experience the sensor node-'material' - enabling a participatory design process.